Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Wonderland Murders

AIDS and Misty Dawn

Los Angeles authorities didn't have any hard evidence linking Nash to the killings either, and it bothered them. The drug dealer had been a thorn in their side for decades, skating just below their radar with his criminal activities, and they dearly wanted to punish him.

In the seven months after the Wonderland murders, police raided Nash's home three times, ultimately seizing $1 million worth of cocaine. Nash's lawyer argued the two pounds of cocaine were for "personal use," but the Superior Court judge didn't buy it and sentenced the nightclub owner to eight years in the state pen.

With Nash safely behind bars, Holmes decided to answer just enough of the grand jury's questions to be released.

He went on to make a few more dirty movies, including a gay feature called The Private Pleasures of John Holmes, but the murder scandal clung to him for the rest of his life.

Private Pleasures video
Private Pleasures video

Then came the AIDS diagnosis in 1985.

In his book, Holmes doesn't theorize about where he contracted the virus, but he does say the diagnosis sent him into a deep depression. He smoked eight packs of Marlboros a day and numbed himself with Scotch, he wrote. To avoid the stigma of the sexual disease, he told friends he had colon cancer.

Nevertheless, he continued to perform in a few more pornos and knowingly exposed several actresses to the deadly virus. In his memoir, he wrote that he traveled to Europe to shoot one movie because he "wanted the opportunity to see the hillsides of Italy one more time."

In January 1988, he married his second wife, Laurie Rose, aka Misty Dawn, in Las Vegas, Rolling Stone reported. The duo met on a set in San Francisco some years earlier.

Misty Dawn
Misty Dawn

The next month, April, Holmes checked into the V.A. hospital in Sepulveda, suffering from AIDS-related encephalitis — an excruciating swelling of the brain. The once-proud Holmes was now a human scarecrow, weighing a mere 90 pounds, his sex appeal gone for good.

He was subject to seizures and mood swings, sometimes blacking out, sometimes flying into rages, Laurie Holmes wrote in the epilogue to Porn King, and morphine became his drug of choice.

LAPD detectives made a final trip to the hospital, hoping for a deathbed confession. But Holmes, alerted to their visit, got into character one last time and acted too drugged to understand them, Laurie Holmes wrote.

He died on a Saturday night, March 13, 1988. He was 43.

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